A March weekend in the upper 70s in the Midwest is a true rarity, and Molly and I were not about to squander it. Bonus: It was St. Patrick’s day weekend and we really needed an excuse to escape the craziness that descends on Chicago each year. Car camping sounded like a great idea and my cousin, Dain, had recently recommended High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. After doing some research, we found that the campground did not accept reservations until later in the year; but figuring not many people would be camping in March, we headed out anyway. Upon arrival, we found the nicer campground which overlooks the lake closed and only the less-desirable group campground open. Cruising the loop twice and didn’t see a single spot worth camping in. Well shit, we were already in Wisconsin, the weather was beautiful, we had all of our gear, what to do now?
Out came the atlas, and we decided to head straight east to Point Beach State Park on Lake Michigan. The drive was a short enough, but darkness was already falling as we set up camp leaving us to cook our venison chili over the fire by headlamp. We didn’t care, we were spring camping in relative comfort and had a big, beautiful campground on Lake Michigan pretty much to ourselves.
The next morning, we biked over to the ranger station to register and see what there was to do. The first thing we asked about was the temperature; it was supposed to be in the upper 70s, but seemed awfully cold. The ranger smiled wryly and informed us that Point Beach actually sticks out about 7 miles into Lake Michigan, and only truly warms up to normal Midwestern temps up when the lake does! Oh well, it was still in the upper 50s and there was lots to do at the park. Molly and I spent the rest of the weekend biking, hiking, cooking, hammocking, and hanging out on the beach.
Although it wasn’t quite as warm as we had envisioned, the weekend was a complete success. Another unexpected trait of the park was that it was actually very green, despite the time of year. Due to the abundance of evergreens, Point Beach was much prettier than most other areas where the deciduous trees had still not leafed out. This is definitely a park worth visiting, although the ranger did say it gets a little crazy in the summer, and reservations are a necessity.